A Study of Liquid Nitrogen’s Diamagnetism

Liquid nitrogen, a commonly used cryogenic fluid, is known for its extremely low temperature and various fascinating properties. One intriguing characteristic of liquid nitrogen is its diamagnetic nature, which sets it apart from many other substances.

Diamagnetism is a phenomenon exhibited by certain materials when they are exposed to an external magnetic field. Unlike paramagnetic substances that are attracted to magnetic fields, diamagnetic materials, such as liquid nitrogen, are repelled by them. This behavior arises from the non-cooperative nature of orbiting electrons within the atoms or molecules.

In the case of liquid nitrogen, each nitrogen molecule (N2) consists of two nitrogen atoms held together by a strong covalent bond. Nitrogen is a diatomic gas in its standard state, but when cooled to extremely low temperatures (-196 degrees Celsius or -320.44 degrees Fahrenheit), it condenses into a liquid form.

Within liquid nitrogen, each nitrogen molecule contains a total of 14 electrons. These electrons are distributed among the molecular orbitals in a way that all the orbital shells are filled, and there are no unpaired electrons. This electronic configuration renders liquid nitrogen diamagnetic.

To further understand this concept, let’s consider how the magnetic field interacts with the electrons in the nitrogen molecules. When a magnetic field is applied to liquid nitrogen, the magnetic field exerts a force on the orbiting electrons. However, due to the absence of unpaired electrons, the electrons within the nitrogen molecules do not align their spins with the magnetic field. Instead, they oppose the magnetic field and create an opposing magnetic moment.

This opposition to the external magnetic field leads to the repulsion of liquid nitrogen from the magnet. If a small amount of liquid nitrogen is placed between the poles of a strong magnet, it will be seen that the liquid nitrogen is pushed away from the magnet. This experiment demonstrates the diamagnetic properties of liquid nitrogen, as it is repelled by the applied magnetic field.

It is worth noting that diamagnetic substances, like liquid nitrogen, have weak magnetic properties compared to paramagnetic or ferromagnetic substances. While paramagnetic materials exhibit weak attraction and align their spins with the magnetic field, diamagnetic materials exhibit weak repulsion and oppose the magnetic field.

Liquid nitrogen’s diamagnetic behavior arises from the non-cooperative nature of its electron configuration. With all the orbital shells filled and no unpaired electrons, liquid nitrogen repels the magnetic field instead of being attracted to it. This property makes liquid nitrogen an interesting and unique substance, with various applications in fields such as cryogenics, science, and technology.

Is Liquid Nitrogen Diamagnetic?

Liquid nitrogen is considered diamagnetic. Diamagnetism is a property of certain materials, including nitrogen, where they are repelled by a magnetic field. In the case of liquid nitrogen, each nitrogen molecule acts as a tiny magnet when exposed to a magnetic field, causing it to be repelled. This phenomenon occurs because the electrons in the nitrogen molecules rearrange themselves in response to the magnetic field, creating opposing magnetic fields that result in the repulsion. liquid nitrogen exhibits diamagnetic behavior due to the repulsion it experiences when subjected to a magnetic field.

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Why Is N2 Diamagnetic In Nature?

N2 is diamagnetic in nature due to the presence of two nitrogen atoms, each with a total of 14 electrons. Diamagnetic substances do not possess any unpaired electrons in their atomic or molecular orbitals. In the case of N2, both nitrogen atoms contribute 7 electrons each. These electrons fill the available molecular orbitals in pairs, following the Pauli Exclusion Principle.

To elaborate further, let’s consider the electron configuration of nitrogen. The atomic number of nitrogen is 7, so the electron configuration of a nitrogen atom is 1s^2 2s^2 2p^3. When two nitrogen atoms combine to form N2, their atomic orbitals overlap to form molecular orbitals through the process of bonding.

In the molecular orbital diagram of N2, the two 1s atomic orbitals of nitrogen combine to form a sigma bonding (σ) molecular orbital and a sigma antibonding (σ*) molecular orbital. Similarly, the 2s and 2p orbitals of each nitrogen atom combine to form sigma and pi bonding and antibonding molecular orbitals.

The pairing of electrons in these molecular orbitals occurs in accordance with the Aufbau principle, which states that electrons fill the lowest available energy levels first. In N2, all the molecular orbitals are filled in pairs, with each electron having a spin opposite to its partner. This results in the cancellation of magnetic moments from paired electrons, making N2 diamagnetic.

The absence of unpaired electrons in N2 leads to its diamagnetic nature. Both nitrogen atoms contribute 7 electrons, which fill the molecular orbitals in pairs, causing the cancellation of magnetic moments and resulting in a lack of magnetic attraction.

Is Liquid Nitrogen Paramagnetic?

Liquid nitrogen is not paramagnetic. Paramagnetic substances are materials that are weakly attracted to magnetic fields. They have unpaired electrons in their atoms or molecules, which causes them to align with external magnetic fields. This alignment results in a weak attraction.

However, nitrogen atoms in the liquid state do not have unpaired electrons, meaning that liquid nitrogen does not exhibit paramagnetic properties. Instead, liquid nitrogen is diamagnetic. Diamagnetic substances are weakly repelled by magnetic fields and have all their electrons paired.

Liquid nitrogen is diamagnetic, not paramagnetic.

What Causes Diamagnetism?

Diamagnetism is caused by the non-cooperative behavior of orbiting electrons in the presence of an external magnetic field. This phenomenon occurs in materials that have no net magnetic moments. The lack of magnetic properties is attributed to the fact that all the orbital shells in the atoms of diamagnetic materials are fully occupied, meaning there are no unpaired electrons present.

To further explain the causes of diamagnetism, we can delve into some key points:

1. Orbiting Electrons: In an atom, electrons occupy specific energy levels or orbitals. These electrons are in constant motion around the nucleus. When an external magnetic field is applied, the motion of these orbiting electrons is affected.

2. Non-Cooperative Behavior: Diamagnetic materials exhibit a non-cooperative response to the applied magnetic field. This means that the orbital motions of the electrons do not align or interact in a way that reinforces the external magnetic field.

3. Filled Orbital Shells: Diamagnetic materials have all their orbital shells filled. This implies that all the available energy levels for the electrons are already occupied by paired electrons, resulting in a cancellation of their individual magnetic moments.

4. No Unpaired Electrons: Unpaired electrons are responsible for generating a net magnetic moment in a material. In diamagnetic materials, all the electrons are paired, meaning there are no unpaired electrons available to contribute to the overall magnetic moment.

Diamagnetism occurs when materials have fully occupied orbital shells and no unpaired electrons. The non-cooperative behavior of orbiting electrons in response to an external magnetic field leads to the absence of a net magnetic moment in diamagnetic materials.


Liquid nitrogen is a fascinating substance that exhibits unique magnetic properties. While it is not inherently magnetic, the individual nitrogen molecules in liquid nitrogen can behave like tiny magnets when exposed to a magnetic field, a phenomenon known as diamagnetism. This means that the nitrogen molecules are repelled by the magnetic field.

On the other hand, liquid oxygen, which is often found alongside liquid nitrogen, shows paramagnetic behavior. This is because the oxygen molecules are attracted to the magnetic field and can be observed sticking between the poles of a magnet until they vaporize.

Diamagnetism in liquid nitrogen is a result of the non-cooperative behavior of its orbiting electrons when subjected to an external magnetic field. The nitrogen atoms in liquid nitrogen have all their orbital shells filled and do not possess any unpaired electrons, resulting in no net magnetic moments.

The diamagnetic nature of liquid nitrogen adds to its many intriguing properties. Its ability to repel magnetic fields showcases the intricate behavior of atoms and molecules when exposed to external forces. This knowledge not only enhances our understanding of the physical properties of liquid nitrogen but also contributes to advancements in various scientific fields such as materials science and magnetism.

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William Armstrong

William Armstrong is a senior editor with H-O-M-E.org, where he writes on a wide variety of topics. He has also worked as a radio reporter and holds a degree from Moody College of Communication. William was born in Denton, TX and currently resides in Austin.